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A Glimpse of the Past by Heatherzart A Glimpse of the Past by Heatherzart
Scratchboard and Ink
16" x 20"

This is a cormorant, a water bird common to my area for those of you who don't recognize it. They are one of my favorite birds to photograph because of how unique they look up close. It's almost like looking at a dinosaur or a dragon with their bumpy skin, scaled beak and brilliant green eyes. They are very expressive birds and I enjoy just sitting and watching them interact with each other, especially during breeding season. The male and female do a beautiful dance where they intertwine their long necks (not so easy to see in this pose but they do have long necks) and "sing" to each other.
They are actually black birds and my picture here is very blue, the original is not so vibrant, but when the sun shines on their wings the glossy sheen is a blue gray color.
I recently invested in a professional photographer to take new images of all of my work (well the pieces I can still get my hands on anyways). It was money well spent! The new files all represent the work as it looks in real life and so much more of the details can be seen. As of now I've reproduced about half of my inventory - it's an expensive and time-consuming process. And I've been forced to do something I HATE ... dreaded watermarks!! Recent thefts have forced me to reevaluate my views on them so you'll see new files from me with my website strategically placed here and there.
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Critique by SunStateGalleries SunStateGalleries/critique/594526046">Mar 14, 2012, 11:29:37 AM
I love cormorants, when I visited Morro Bay and SLO these guys were always seen on the sand beds at low tide or roosting on the rocks. They always had the most melancholy calls in the evening!

Vision: Excellent use of colors and detail. The beak is spectacular, I really love how you captured the mosaic like pattern of their beak in the sunlight. The lighting on this is great, it really brings expression to the artwork. The eye looks so real, and the scales around it really bring it to life.

Originality: No one paints these birds. No one. So I love that you chose such a unique animal to include into your gallery, I can only wish that his head was turned slightly more to the viewer, instead of a strict profile. But again, that is a very small preference, the detail you included really makes up for it, because it captures the curious almost mischievous expression of this species.

Technique: While I love the colors, and the detail of the feathers, the overall artwork seems a bit rough to me, not in the sense it looks unfinished, but the feathers look to be almost grainy. When I see these birds their feathers look slick as oil, and there are not many robust highlights to bring that out. However, the subtle lighting on this one makes up for any need for him to be improved much overall.

Impact: Overall, I love this work of yours. Maybe more than others because these birds bring back so many memories and joy from visiting the more northern beaches. Really great job, Heather!
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
48 out of 61 deviants thought this was fair.
SunStateGalleries/critique/594526046#comments">5 Replies

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Svorec Featured By Owner May 4, 2017  Student General Artist
It's heragon!
AmbergrisElement Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Wow, those details are simply amazing!
GlitterBrushArt Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, this is astounding. Scratch board skills off the chart!
mockingbirdontree Featured By Owner May 12, 2016
Brilliant! :icontimmy64plz:
Tokolosch Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2016
This colors are so beautiful!
And as you say, the bird looks indeed a bit prehistoric/dinosaur alike :)
I love it... That looks really really good!
ElwynEllessar Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
The details are amazing in this scratchboard! The design in his beak, the texture around his eyes and the edge of the beak, the coloring, and the texture of the feathers is spot on! Incredible job Heather!
Blue-Anima Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015   General Artist
I really enjoy the way you render textures. You are extremely skilled.Clap Clap Clap 
TchaikoGret Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2015
Woow, I was sure it was a photography, until I read the traditional art / scratchboard. I love the eye !
Koeskull Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Seriously amazing, everything in your gallery is! What kind of scratchboard and ink do you use? I recently got some scratchboard paper but it doesn't seem like it would hold color well since the underside is glossy. Or is that normal?
Heatherzart Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks!  I use Ampersand scratchbord -… - the paper stuff isn't very good for serious work and it depends on the substrate underneath the ink layer whether it'll take color or not.  Ampersand boards are very good quality and still reasonably priced - they have a nice clay surface under the ink that takes many layers of scratching if you're patient and you use a light hand.  I use Koh-I-Nohr inks to color and the Ampersand ink set.  The Koh inks are a little stronger and I have more options for colors I'm too lazy to mix so I like using them but the Ampersand inks are pretty good as a starter set.  Ink mixes very true to the color wheel so the set will allow you to make every color of the rainbow with a little work ;)
Just make sure that when you lay ink on your board - dilute it first and layer it on - it gets dark FAST and wait until the board's completely dry before scratching again.  All of my pics have 15 - 20 layers of scratching in them with coloring done throughout the whole process.  Patience is key!
Koeskull Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! I'm very new to it so I'll keep practicing with the paper. I'll definitely try those though!
sciencevsart Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's a beautiful bird. Your colours are rich and vibrant. The eye is so full of life, blazing with conscuousness, that it almost seems like a photo, or a window.
ParagonofAwesomeness Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this is so beautiful!!! I'm from NZ and I once visited a gannet colony on the side of a cliff. There were THOUSANDS of  them, and some of them were doing courtship dances where they wag their heads about and invert their wings. Have you ever painted any gannets?
mossoak Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014
Spectacular!  The textures, the colors...jaw dropping!
Costellomunteanu Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
____________________AMAZING !!!
WillemSvdMerwe Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2013
Very well executed!
Fajralam Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
incredible!!!!!!!!i am very much amazed i have never see such a excellent work before :squee:
LadyCorvidaea Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Absolutely magnificent! I love cormorants! They have such pretty eyes.
Cypselurus Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Stunning! Never seen anything like this before :D
navmun6485 Featured By Owner May 20, 2013
great work
Gough83 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Stunning work
PaulChalmus Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2013
Your work is mind blowing.
The-Rasmus-Raven Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2013   General Artist
Your art is awesome!!
Illirik Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is absolutely, totally stunning. It actually made my heart skip a beat for a second :)
Very well done, looks like a photography, you should be incredibly proud of this work.
mishkuu Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
wow i thought this was a photo! amazing work!!!
Metal-Bender Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013   Photographer
SilkenWinds Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:wow: I don't know how you do it, the realism is simply stunning. How long does something like this take you to do?
Heatherzart Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! It just depends on how successful I am with my process - some pictures go smoothly like this cormorant and I'm done in a week - others I struggle with and it takes me a month. I LOVE these birds and as with anything else - when you're inspired things just come easier.
SilkenWinds Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Awesome! :D I've always had a passion for art but since I can't draw,cameras are my passion! ;)
nyanamia Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Extraordinary detail! We have double-crested cormorants where I am. I have never seen one up close, as they are very skittish. Thanks for this enlightening view.
Heatherzart Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! They really are funny birds, I have a whole series of pictures I want to do of them.
Daicelf Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Professional General Artist daughter took me kayaking downriver to the beach near us....discovered a half buried cormorant corpse in advanced state of came away with up nicely left in a bag of peat..outside my studio.....a wonderful elegant structure..I am sure will eventually appear in my work as a drawn element...or as a study in its own right...

This piece is amazingly inspirational....the command you have of this a little intimidating...I have to say...but fires up the desire to try even harder...jaw-dropping work.
Heatherzart Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! I love to hear that I'm inspiring other artists - and I've done a few skull pictures (not since college though) - I bet it'll be great. I did a cougar skull in stipple and it was lovely. Please send me a note when you do it - I'd love to see it and I can't always keep up with my messages on here.
parastrell Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013  Professional
this is quite honestly the most beautiful thing i have seen on this site in a long while; bravo <33
Heatherzart Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Wow! Thanks, what a lovely complement
kimrhodes Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Professional General Artist
wow, beautiful! I want to make a cormorant Dragon now! :love:
Heatherzart Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Ooooh I'd love to see that! Your sculptures are amazing, I love the detail. Sculpting is something that I've always enjoyed but I don't have the time. Perhaps we could inspire each other! Send me a pm if you do the corm - or email me Comments get lost on here if I don't check regularly so this way I'm sure to see it.
kimrhodes Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
Awesome! I will have to start thinking about it more :), I will definitely email u if I get it done.
botticeli Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Dozerson Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
ElizavetaS Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Great job! I really like how you work detail
Anto009 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
How this hasn't gotten a DD is a mistery to me
alllysa Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is fantastic. May I ask what type of scratchboard and ink you use?
kemiking Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing! I am terrible with feathers, but your texture is spot on!
Raph1966 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Student General Artist
One if not THE most detailed, impressive scratchboard artpieces I've seen yet. :wow: Wonderful work.
CindysArt Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
OMG!!!! This is the most beautiful I have seen in a long time! I love it so much! Fantastic work! :clap:
emilysodders Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh yes...I understand...I, too, have begun the re-photograph/watermark adventure. Not fun. But it must be done! Beautiful work, as always!
Trinitite Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Student General Artist
Stunning detail! I love the range of value and the colors.
3dArt-APO Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
WoW, that is incredible!
wolverine041269 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow this is a fantastic work of art, it is stunning, beautiful, amazing and so awesome, the detail and the colours are brilliant :D
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Submitted on
March 14, 2012
Image Size
498 KB
Submitted with


20,136 (2 today)
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Camera Data

Better Light
Model Super6k
Shutter Speed
1/20 second
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Sep 24, 2012, 10:33:53 AM
Adobe Photoshop Elements 11.0 Macintosh